MoselyGallery Celebrates Black History Month
PRINCESS ANNE, MD - Obi mfa ne nsa benkum nkyere n'agya amanfo, literally, “Do not point to the ruins of your father's house with your left hand,” is a proverb handed down from the ancient Akan civilization meaning: “Do not scorn culture inherited from your forefathers.”
It could be the motto for the celebration of Black History Month at UMES, which will welcome experts on the fiber arts of the Akan culture to the Mosely Gallery in February.
The exhibit, “Cloth As Metaphor: Adinkra Cloth Symbols of the Akan of Ghana,” includes photographs by G.F. Kojo Arthur as well as traditional cloth symbols and will be open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., during February.
Although stamping as a form of surface decoration on cloth is found around the world, Adinkra is unique to Ghana. Adinkra designs, which have meaning in the Akan culture, are carved in relief on pieces of gourd. These are dipped in a black tar-like substance and used to “print” the design on cotton cloth. Traditionally, the cloth was also black and worn as funeral garb. Now, it can be found in many colors, but the designs are still printed in black.
EkoobaGyasi, a master weaver and an artist-in-residence in the USA, sponsored by the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems (CEFIKS), will demonstrate kente weaving at the Mosely Gallery to celebrate Black History Month in February.
Gyasi, who is from Bonwire, Asante, will demonstrate traditional techniques used to record information about Akan society in Ghana that reveal much about this ancient civilization. Gyasi is the owner and director of the Bowire Kente Weaving Institute.
He has demonstrated, lectured and taught kente weaving in schools in Ghana and in schools and museums across the USA.
Weaving is a man’s occupation in this culture. Historically, kente cloth was worn by kings, chiefs or others prominent in Akan society. Although more widely available now, it is still expensive and a mark of prestige.
CEFIKS, based in Accra, records, preserves and disseminates information about indigenous knowledge systems while servingas a clearinghouse of indigenous knowledge systems from various communities within and without Ghana.
The Kente Weaving Institute and CEFIKS are working together in documenting the apprenticeship system in the kente weaving process. Apprenticeship has been an age-long method used in training young people in trades and crafts, agriculture, business and other occupations.
It was in the 13th century that the Akan peoples, ancestors of the modern Asante tribe, migrated along early trade routes from other parts of Africa, particularly the Ivory Coast to present-day Ghana in the neighborhood of modern Kumasi. By the end of the 17th century, the grand Asante Kingdom emerged under the Chief of Kumasi. Much of the history of this process has been transmitted orally but study of adinkra designs as they changed over time reveals much about the society that created them.
Contact: Ann Wilmer, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, firstname.lastname@example.org.